Michelle Danyn and Ryan McDonough in 'No Love' at the Eclectic… (David Nott )
The fact that “No Love,” now in its world premiere at the Eclectic Company Theatre, went up 25 minutes late with absolutely no explanation as to why, was undeniably irritating. And a lengthy opening monologue delivered in almost total darkness by an actor who couldn’t find her light (granted, in John Dickey’s lighting design there was precious little of it to be found), proved almost insurmountably annoying.
Yet those glitches faded into insignificance given the accumulated problems of Andrew Osborne’s play – a sort of latter-day “La Ronde” in which various loosely connected characters hook up, act out and get kinky, frequently sans clothing.
Early on, the audience is privy to a graphically staged rape -- and that’s just the opening gambit in Kerr Seth Lordygan’s in-your-face staging. A masochistic wife, clad only in pasties, fetish hosiery and a metallic chastity belt, chows down on dog food fed to her by her abusive “master,” a blue collar ne’er-do-well with a yen for his slutty sister, who in turn has an unrequited craving for her gay guy friend, who has a hidden crush on his macho military pal.
Predictably, all those missed signals and regrettable liaisons ultimately erupt in violence.
The actors, some of them quite good, commit to their outrageous material in extremely revealing – pun intended – performances. And, to Osborne's and Lordygan’s joint credit, all that relentless salacity is extremely watchable, a slow-motion train wreck at a nudists’ colony.
But as the play wanders from one sexualized situation to another without making any particular point, it becomes apparent that there’s very little craft under all the crass and that the real point of this “alternative comedy” is simply to shock. Even in that, “No Love” falls short.
“No Love,” Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village. 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Oct. 6. $18. (818) 508-3003. www.eclecticcompanytheatre.org. Running time: 85 minutes.